THE PRIMARY agricultural industry can’t be blamed for the constantly increasing food prices, judging by figures just released by agricultural organisation Grain SA (GSA). GSA chairman Neels Ferreira says last year’s increase can certainly not be attributed to the prices of basic foodstuffs, such as maize and wheat, which are used as raw materials for staple foods. “In fact, to the end of April this year the price of white maize fell by 13,8% on an annualised basis and that of wheat by even more, namely 34,8%.”
The consumer price index for food increased sharply in 2005 and again in 2007, according to figures from the Department of Agriculture’s Directorate of Agricultural Statistics (see graph). Last year inflation was still running at 16,9% for food and 9,9% for non-food products from an agricultural source. And according to Statistics SA the price of a 700g loaf of brown bread increased from R5,75 in March 2008 to R7,21 in March 2009 – making that loaf 25,4% more expensive than last year.